Great Basin Naturalist


Critical thermal maxima (CTM) and thermal preferenda of the common fishes of the Virgin River were examined. Differences in final temperature preferenda and CTM for species with low thermal lability (speckled dace, spinedace, roundtail chub) correspond well with differences in their distribution and abundance in the river. These species shifted their acute thermal preferences relatively little as acclimation temperature increased. For thermally labile species (woundfin, red shiner, desert sucker, and flannelmouth sucker), the final preferendum is a less precise indicator of probably distribution. The woundfin, an endangered fish, has a high CTM (39.5 C at 25 C acclimation) and a labile species preferendum (slope nearest 1) compared to other species in the system. The introduced red shiner likewise has a high CTM and a labile acute preferendum. In cooler temperatures, its acute preferendum shifts more rapidly than does that of the woundfin. At higher temperatures (above 15 C), the red shiner does not shift its acute preferendum as rapidly as does the woundfin. The red shiner, however, has a higher final preferendum. For thermally labile species, influence of acclimation temperature on mean preferendum, together with CTM, provides a better insight into distributional relationships within the system.